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5 Tips for Runners to Prevent Black Toenails

If you run a lot, your toes experience a lot of stress. Unfortunately, this can lead to black toenails.

Laura Schweger, DPM, and Evan M. Ross, DPM, of Optima Foot and Ankle, in Bend, Oregon, are experts in treating foot and ankle conditions. And one issue they come across often is runners developing back toenails.

In this blog, they explain why this condition occurs and how it can be prevented.

What causes black toenails?

A black toenail is a sign of bruising or bleeding of the nail bed, which is the area underneath the nail. In runners, this can occur because the toenail is repeatedly forced into the front end of the shoe.

Unfortunately, this condition — also known as “runner’s toe” — is a common injury among runners, especially those who train for marathons or who train at high intensity. The condition usually resolves when training is decreased.

Preventing black toenails

If you run, there are a number of things you can do to help prevent getting black toenails. 

1. Check the fit of your shoes

If you run, you should make sure to wear the right shoes. Good running shoes should have plenty of room in the toe box, but not so much that your feet slide. Ask for assistance when you shop for running shoes, and make sure to replace worn-out shoes regularly.

2. Perfect your lacing technique

Once you’ve found the right athletic shoes, try different lacing techniques until you find the one that supports your feet the best. The right lacing technique can help support and stabilize your feet and ankles and also optimize blood flow to your feet. The right technique can also help prevent rubbing, tightness, and pressure.

3. Trim your nails the right way

You should always trim your nails straight across, which will help prevent ingrown toenails. You should also make sure to trim them regularly, because longer nails have a higher chance of coming in contact with the shoes.

4. Keep your feet comfortable

There are a number of things you can do to help keep your feet comfortable. For example, you can wear moisture-wicking socks, which can help keep your feet drier and help keep them from sliding forward in your shoes. You can also try using silicone toe pads, which can help provide padding and reduce friction.

5. Adjust your running mechanics

While a black toenail may not be painful, repeatedly injuring the toe could cause lasting issues, such as loosening of the affected nail and even nail loss. That’s why it might be a good idea to have your running mechanics examined by a professional.

At Optima Foot and Ankle, we can help you make biomechanical adjustments to how you run and also help you adjust your stretching and warm-up techniques, all of which could help improve your running and protect your toenails.

To learn more about protecting your toes, call 541-383-3668 or book an appointment online with Optima Foot and Ankle today.

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